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My Story of Yin and Yang: Lipstick Mountain Girl

My Story of Yin and Yang: Lipstick Mountain Girl

The Yin and Yang of your body, face and temperament were set at birth and your hormones did the rest of the work. The kind of hormones you produced (estrogen or testosterone) prenatally and at puberty shaped you to be a True Tomboy or a Girly Girl, or, as in my case, a mix of both. I had both girly and boyish sides to me that fought over who I was supposed to be and how I should behave. Had I known about the Feminine Yin/Masculine Yang principle then, I would not have felt so conflicted and unwilling to embrace the “real” me. Here’s my story:

I was born in Colorado to an outdoorsy father and strong mother who ran an old school “Yang” household and we were expected to fit into the family activities and not complain. We had opinionated discussions around the dinner table, but there wasn’t room to talk about feelings or the deeper meanings of things. I was the designated artistic child and being artistic came with a healthy dose of tender sensitivity.

Nothing tells my family story better than the annual family Christmas card photo shoot.

When my parents suddenly announced it was time to sit in front of Dad’s Rolleicord camera, I had little time to prepare. At fifteen, I was in my bedroom frantically diving through a pile of clothes trying to decide what to wear. I chose gray high-waisted flannel trousers, a pale blue and lavender seersucker blouse (tucked in Katherine Hepburn style), long wavy locks and a touch of lavender eye shadow. I still had to curl my hair and eyelashes before making myself presentable.

They were all waiting on me. My sister Barbara and brothers Barry and Bruce were ready ten minutes ago. “Linda!” my mom said, “Get in here now!”

Girly Girl

My family still teases me over the need to look pretty for pictures. But I felt happiest when I was creating something and trying my design ideas on myself seemed like the natural thing to do. If I had known back then I would become a professional personal stylist, I would have more fully appreciated my eye for design.

I realized looking artistically different from other girls felt right and having a sewing wizard for a mom let me explore my style with the luxury of custom fit. I picked out fabrics and patterns and mom worked her magic. Our final collaboration was my senior prom dress. A dramatic departure from the Laura Ashley floral garb all the girls were wearing, mine was a blue silk halter dress with a tiny bit of lace at the neckline. To complete my unique look, I painted my fingernails blue.

I also had great empathy and compassion for any suffering creature and tears flowed easily. “You are just too sensitive,” my mother would say. I hated getting in trouble for fear I would be scolded, criticized or disciplined. I so wanted to please others that I practiced being a good little girly-girl. My petite stature and dainty facial features naturally conveyed the delicate side of my nature, but there was a different part of me – my tough, tomboy side that thought my sensitivity was a curse. If only I didn’t cry when I saw a hurt bird or take my family’s sassy sarcasm so personally.

Luckily for me, my athletic body helped me survive familial bantering and find my inner warrior. I enthusiastically participated in the sporting activities we did together from skiing and rock climbing to backpacking through river valleys, up aspen and pine forests to the high alpine tundra and mountain peaks above. For someone who had to create a different outfit for school every day, I had no problem wearing the same pair of pants for a week straight while backpacking in the wild Rocky Mountains.

Rough and Tumble Tomboy

Sports brought out a completely different side of me. When my father put a tennis racket in my hand and clicked me into a pair of skis, the tomboy in me came out with a vengeance. But, of course, it took some coaxing to get me started. I cried all the way to my first tennis lesson when “forced” to substitute for my older sister who had broken her leg.

As it turned out, I became a very competitive, fierce little athlete. I LOVED the thrill of smashing the tennis ball across the court and charging down a ski racecourse. I LOVED the feeling of my heart pounding in my chest as I exerted my breath and I LOVED the connection I felt to my muscles when I challenged them to “Go!”  Naturally coordinated, I learned sports quickly – always intent on improving my abilities. My broad shouldered, small-hipped body didn’t change much at puberty and I had no trouble putting on muscle. The adrenaline rush of athletics hooked me too as I dared myself to go further and faster.

Marathon running became an athletic passion that not only satisfied the competitive side of me, it saved me from falling into a deep depression after my brother Barry tragically died in an oilrig accident. Completing 26.2 miles in my first marathon race empowered and energized me. During this difficult time of grief, I told myself, “If your body can push forward, so can your life,” and “If your feet can cross the finish line, you can walk through any situation.” Alone on the trail I often cried, and as my feet touched Earth, Mother Nature grounded my pain. By the end of a run, the weight of a heavy heart and fog of creeping negative thoughts magically lifted.

Through my athletic abilities, I started to recognize my determination, strength and courage. It was as if my body was trying to connect me with my inner warrior, the masculine part of me that was direct, competitive and wanted to make a difference in the world. I think that’s why I enjoyed playing with boys because I didn’t have to be sweet. I could push, dare, challenge and compete with them without worrying if I was behaving too “strongly.” In all other relationships – parents, teachers and other girls, I shut down my warrior side.

Lipstick Mountain Girl

My extreme girly Yin and tomboyish Yang traits confused me and at times caught others off guard. There was the sensitive, delicate, artistic, petite Linda and there was the direct, outspoken, competitive, muscular Linda. Which one was I – decidedly feminine or one of the boys?  These contrary parts of myself constantly questioned each other leaving my brain in a sea of doubt.

Leaving Colorado for California after college graduation and a six-year stint as a school teacher allowed me to spread my wings and explore the benefits of my intuitive, more spiritually-inclined self.  I slowly started to appreciate how fortunate and fun it was to embrace both worlds. Being both gutsy and strong and sensitive and compassionate is what makes me whole today just like Yin and Yang complete the circle of wholeness and balance.

I am a Lipstick Mountain Girl. I no longer curse my sensitivity or eye for beauty. Taking risks in adventure sports satisfies the daredevil in me.  When I began my career in design, my signature style emerged as a clear combination of feminine and masculine pieces and I learned how to wear clothes that balance my proportions and bring out the inner me. Feminine, full skirts are one of my favorite things to wear, but they are always balanced with something more masculine like chunky boots or a moto jacket.

How about you? Would you like to find out your Yin/Yang qualities for your body, face and inner temperament? Would you like to know what’s behind the style of clothes you love? Take this 4-part, fun Stellar Beauty Yin/Yang quiz and find out!

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